Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Give and Take

Whenever I wonder about the balance of life, I am quite simply nonplussed. If the basic assumption is you reap what you sow, then what or how much you give finally should equate out to what you get. Yet, that hardly seems to happen. You look around and see that absolute nitwits for whom the word 'bastard' was possibly designed get away by being lousy S-O-Bs while the inherently good and decent ones get the stick.

But this is not about them. It is about the countless times when you have given everything you had to people who have hardly ever stopped to glance at you and thank you for what you have done, and appreciating how much they mean to you and got nothing in return. So much so, that at one point you wonder where do you go from here. What else do you need to make them appreciate you and then you realize that whatever you do, it will not happen. For they are too oblivious of you, too consumed with their own considerations.

It hurts. And you are filled with a sense of wastage.

The other side of the coin is more interesting and more poignant. Many a time, while we are pursuing our set of interests, we commit the same error - an error of utter neglect towards the ones who have given us their love and undying attention. For those, your smile might be the most important thing they look forward to. Maybe, you do smile but not with them, but at them, at their all too apparent folly at the things they do to be with you. In short, you trivialize and insult their emotions. Yet, looking at it purely objectively, they are the ones who deserve you the most. And they are the ones who have been left high and dry.

So, how does this equate out ? Does this ever stop us from making the same mistakes again ? Does this make us more sensitive and teach us to appreciate love as and when we see and feel it ? The feeling of deja-vu is not one which is gratifying irrespective of which end of the spectrum you are at and in both cases, you should be more careful of losing out on the wonderful touch of love because of your inability to appreciate it.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Devdas's Glorification and Parvati's Pain

From the time I read this classic I have always been overwhelmed by its principal protagonist. Devdas, epitomizing the suffering of an unrequited lover. Love has the potential to destroy a soul. And Mr.Chatterjee's words ensured that when you finish the novel a part of you cries with him. In a lonely death yards away from the house of his beloved.

Yet, as I think now, I cannot help but feel that Sarat-babu was too biased and completely oblivious to the plight of Devdas's love interest Parvati. We are never allowed to feel any empathy for her. Saratchandra does not do justice to her. Never for a moment does he delve into the psyche and silent moments of anger, frustration and deprivation which Parvati must have felt.

It is assumed surreptitiously that being a woman, she has accepted her fate and moulded herself and directed her mind to meeting the wants and desires of the household which she was married into. Her aspirations of a life of love with the person she loved, her anger at Devdas's seeming cowardice at not being able to take her with him and the frustration of being with another man, completly shutting her of all the magical moments love can bring is never put forth.

We see that Devdas suffers. His pain, unbearable, finds temporary solace in Chandramukhi and in alcohol. His torment is glorified and Sarat-babu, incredulously puts a white veil to this by implying the purity and intensity of his emotions through his act of abstinence from having a transactional relationship with the courtesan. Implicit also is the assumption that once married and too occupied in her household activities Parvati is happy - for happiness for the woman was defined as having access to wealth and position in lieu of her husband. Ironically, the state of mind or of the heart was never considered for Parvati. The glorification of Devdas and the utter neglect of Parvati and her ordeal, which any woman is likely to go through in such a situation is unfair deserves to be questioned.

Over the years, as I have been exposed to emotions of various kinds, the unfairness to Parvati has made me think. Think about what and how much a woman can endure. Think how little we know of them, how we have, maybe unconsciously pushed their emotions to the fringes and how naive we are when we claim to know them.

Today, when I hear of heartbreaks and stories of lost love and broken relationships, I remember Parvati with her dignified reconciliation to her situation and the weakling that Devdas was - unable to cope up with the failure at love. Makes me wonder, who loved and lost more. Devdas, having given vent to his feelings or Parvati who kept quiet and led a life without ever having the avenues to express and only her own heart to talk to.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010


There are some who will bring a smile to your face the moment their thought crosses your mind, there are some whom you would not even remember after a brush in an evening while there are some who would earn your respect by the sheer weight of their personality but there would always be one who would change the way you think leaving an indelible imprint on your mind, on your life.

I don't know whether Saumyajit has changed my life. Now is not the time to be the judge of that. Maybe, 20 years later, when I start doing a post mortem on my life. But surely the association which started about 15 years back has transformed my thoughts, recalibrated my principles, allowed me to break the greatest barrier known to man - to unshackle the mind and allow it to be free.

I was batting in an absolutely trivial match in my locality where it was a question of life and death to win or lose when I saw this book with a white cover with a rose on top which said "Love Story". At 17, when your life is pretty much on a diet dished out by parents based on the foundations of their moral and ethical fabric, the word 'love' was meant to be uttered in hushed tones, the word 'kiss' used only while cuddling babies and 'sex' meant only checking boxes in forms where you had to specify gender. So, on looking at that book with wide eyed wonder, my exclamation caught him off-guard and he straight away shoved it in my hand. A bit hesitant, I enquired the likely reaction of my parents if they were to catch me reading such a book, to which his nonchalant reply was to first ask them to read that!

That was the book. I had not read anything like that before. It was an appetizer to a sumptuous never-ending meal. After that, at periodic intervals, I would ask him what to read and would have some of the best times of my life poring over his recommendations. And then discuss them with him. His method, or an agenda, I doubt if there was one, was to just throw up a question and let me be with that. In one discussion I remember having being critical of people indulging in sex with reckless abandon, only in pursuit of physical pleasure. His response was "what is wrong with that?" To this day, I do not have an answer to that and possibly this question was the genesis to me thinking about everything and questioning all till I found an answer which would either have a rational backing or an emotional one.

And then came the movies. An ardent follower and admirer of Hollywood, this was a dessert which I had not had an exposure to. That words have power, that melodrama may not be the only method of expression that grief and love has a refined intensity which is much more endearing and intoxicating is something which the movies of the 50s and 60s have made me realize.

What this exposure has inadvertently done is to make me a trfile snooty and utterly dismissive of people who do not read or watch stuff which you wont even remember a moment of barely a minute after you have finished it. I seem to have lost some of my humility in the process but what I have gained in the process is many times more gratifying.

So here is to Saumyajit. May all of the 'spidermans', wherever they are, always have a Saumyajit at some point of time in their life - maybe not to change them, maybe not to do anything but just maybe to make them realize that the liberation of the mind is the greatest instrument of experiencing the divine taste of freedom.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Parents and Children

I know all of what you do are meant truly for our well-being, that the intentions are absolutely noble and you only have our best interest at heart. The problem is what constitutes as a virtue to you or rather a vice to you might not be one when you look at it from my perspective. If you let your apprehensions and prejudices and inhibitions and more importantly your value system dictate what I should do or should not, then you are fundamentally destroying everything you have tried to inculcate in me.

YOU have taught me to be independent, to use my ability to think and weigh and choose accordingly what is right or beneficial for me. YOU have given what you had to give and if I, today, are at loggerheads with your value system or your conventions and I desire to chart out a path that I think suits my disposition, then YOU need to stop for a second and allow yourself to trust me against your wishes. Before you jump out of your skin and use the typical parental rhetoric of me being insensitive and how things used to be in your time.

Because if you do that, then I need to remind you in all humility that your time has passed. Just as mine will maybe 20 years from now on. Just as my children's will be when they are 50.

Your children are NOT expected to abide by your system of morality. Because times change and through that changes many things. One of them, particularly in the context of our country is that, the glorification of sacrifice as an instrument of expression of undying love and intensity has given way to being selfish in pursuit of happiness. If it could be had today, it should and will be had today. The second would be a just and necessary utter disdain for what will become of society if we are to be hedonistic. While I appreciate our eternal commitment to hypocrisy in every sphere of life, when we criticize others inspite of having lovely skeletons in our own cupboards, this concern about society forgetting who constitutes them is perplexing. Why not for a change think of our own happiness and fix ourselves first before taking such an honourable job of fixing the society?

Now, why do I still rant about YOU and not just screw it and go ahead? Because I want you to be part of the time when the world appears to be a beautiful place to live in. And hence, I yield. Every time. Hoping that someday you will look at it from my end and try to out-think yourself and allow me to be me. You are important irrespective of whether you can take a call on my life - you are the one who has given it to me.

We are not at war. We shall never be. And if you intend to remain rooted to your conservatism and your ideas, then as a worthy son, I have to do what you have always taught me to - stand up for what I believe in even when I see you warming the opposition bench, for I cannot allow you to let me let go off something which I know for sure is right and let you realize that in hindsight, when we have lost the most precious resource called time.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


There is nothing profound in any of these. Yet over time, all of these have been buttressed repeatedly leading me to believe that there might be some element of truth to all of these. These are my realizations collected over the last decade or so:

There is a poet in everyone. Its only a function of the surroundings and the
inspiration which is the foundation of great creation.

If you are selfish, you won't have friends but life will be convenient for you
and you don't have to make considerations at your own expense.

Goodwill is an asset but one which hardly gives you any tangible benefits.

When someone loves you, you will just know it and once you do you will never
mistake it for anything else in life. It will cease to be an impostor and will welcome you with open arms.

Whether life is beautiful or a sack of stone bags is purely a transient state.
It takes one moment to change everything. Either you come crashing down or you rise up in exultation. Whichever way, it is at the least, always interesting.

Sometimes, a look is enough. Much much more than a hundred words exchanged.
Sometimes, one word might be more powerful than all of what we have spoken since we learnt to speak. Sometimes, silence can be deafening.

The only thing which I have always carried with me and which I cannot live
without are memories. They are my greatest friends and my sworn enemies.

Heartbreaks are essential. Without them, you lose out on one of the most
important learning of life. They teach you to be sensitive and humble. They make us know that we are fragile and worthy of love.

The joy in the voice of your friends who are happy for you is something to
cherish. It is then, that you feel that all the time spent being with them might have been worth it.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

My Grandparents

For most part it was a one-sided affair. Contrary to the general rule which has governed my life, out here I was fortunate - supremely fortunate. When you are loved without preconditions, and only loved and hardly chided or disciplined and even saved from the occasional justified wrath of your mother, then you know that you are lucky.

Till about a very long time, I really did not think much about my grandparents. Except for the fact that Dadu would offer all kinds of incentive to have me at his place and Didimoni would mesmerize with her mind-blowing culinary skills. And I, oblivious of what I meant to them, in ignorant cruelty, did not have time. Too engrossed in my own life, too proud of my youth and energy.

They were a strange couple. My Dadu was a typical chauvinistic patriarch. Sensitive but dominating, sensible but conservative and one who abided in almost all cases strictly by the prism of duty, responsibility as laid out by traditions. Didimoni was love. There is no other way to describe her. A beauty in her younger days, she had a smile all through the back breaking work she did all day. Not a complain. Not an indication of irritation. Fully and utterly committed to the one person who was her world. Dadu.

Dadu died when I was in college. Didimoni died today. She was dead the day Dadu ceased to exist. The transition from a bubbly, jovial woman to one who was alive merely physically having lost the will to live was shocking. To me it was painful. Having never seen her, being at the mercy of another, having always seen her as upright and capable, it hurt.

It made me realize that the terms of love and respect might not always rest with equality, that being together in peace needed nothing except faith and unflinching support, that a successful life is not measured in any other terms except the smiles you bring about with whom you are.

In my adolescence, Dadu tried with all his persuasive powers to teach me the strength of poetry. To no avail. Today, if I were to single out one single impact of him in my life, it would have to be the ability or propensity to appreciate creation, to read, read more and learn and assimilate. Maybe he did not have the power to implement it in his own life, maybe he wanted me to be a better man to be able to do what he could not - I would never know.

But together, they both were there, with me, when I had those stupid frequent fever, when I was spiritedly broken by jaundice and when I did well in my tenth, I think I have never seen anyone so happy for me - not even my parents.
Is it just coincidence that of all what I have done so far, that day would unarguably qualify as one of the happiest one in my life.

As Didimoni goes to the pyre today after years of struggling to die and be with Dadu yet stoically living, possibly to meet up with the woman I am going to marry or possibly just because she had to, I have lost something more than the only two persons in this world who called me 'Tipai'. The name is dead from today. And what remains is a man richer by all of those times and poorer to some degree by that elusive and precious thing called love.

Friday, January 01, 2010

An Interesting Year

What started as a year of melancholia finally turned out to be a very interesting one. One of my best friend got married. Consequently, it pulled the curtains on the one and half years we shared a flat. Since our disposition was eerily similar, both being of the laziest sort, we had an amazing time. Staying with friends is such fun.

Then came the months of serious introspection. One of despairing boredom, of steady
restlessnes, of getting sucked in to the finality of a job which allowed my brains to rust in its stupendous glory. In the midst of this, happened the trip to Lahaul, Spiti and Chandrataal. I am thankful that I made the decision to go on that trip within a span of 2 hours. It surely is the best place I have been to so far in my life.

August was a month which was unkind. I realized I spent three decades on this earth without
anything to show for it. And suffered the first bout of a mid-life crisis even before I reached it ! At the onset of September, things started getting brighter. Joined a job, where I met new people, new perspectives and the brain was put to use after a very long time. Felt, I belonged.

And then, surreptitiously, almost imperceptibly came an email, which as I realize now, was the

first corner my life was about to turn. Initially, as is the case with me, skepticism ruled the roost. Some phone calls later, I sometimes felt like asking myself the question which I have been asking for quite some time then - "was this it?" But then, experience in its wisdom, had taught me to brush aside such thoughts. You don't score till you have scored.

November and December were at the very least, interesting, which actually colours the entire
landscape of 2009 and tilts it to such an extent that the earlier memories fade into inconsequence.

It was in November that I met her.

We spent a day discussing dreams and life and feeling comfortable in our own space.
There was a flow, a certain sense of fluidity and then the question kept coming back. By the end of the week, I knew I was getting into serious trouble again.

I had vouched that I would never be in a position where I have committed myself to play the
stroke only to get caught at the last moment. But then, life has other plans. In spite of all my inclinations to hold back, I just could not. Just went with what I wanted to do. Being in different cities just added to the spice. Never before in a single month have I gone through such a plethora of emotions. One of upheaval, at times bitterness, moments of pure joy, moments of total disregard for the repercussions my actions were to cause and yes, of course, of hope. I said things, which I myself could not believe I could. I almost invariably found the right words to express exactly what I felt.

It was in December when winter felt like spring. Warm, sunny, bright and glorious.

I have no idea what lies in store in life. Whether ours will be like Richard and Francesca or Robert and Francesca. But for the first time, I truly feel alive. Wanting
the next day to come with all its anticipation, its unexpectedness, its possibilities. Wanting it to be not just another day where I mark off my attendance but a day where I smiled without a reason, where I heard another - without a reason and understanding fully what John Nash meant when he said "It is in the mysterious equations of love that you find all the reasons of logic"

Goodbye 2009 ! Welcome 2010 !